Thank you, Lalu, for touching our lives

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    ‘In VERA Files, we knew her as “Lalu,” one of the nine fellows from different parts of the country that responded to our invitation to attend a journalism training workshop on Road Safety in August 2019.’

    SOMEONE who has touched our lives in ways that she was not even conscious of passed away last week.

    Our friends from Bukidnon informed us last Thursday that Lourdes de la Torre, one of VERA Files Road Safety fellows, has died. Not from COVID-19. A report in BukidnonNews.Net, where she used to write, said she “died of heart failure and complications early Thursday, May 21. She was 66.”

    The Bukidnon News Report said, “Doc Lalu, as she is fondly called by many friends, has served as dean of two academic institutions in southern Bukidnon. She was also employed by the Department of Education for the Senior High School in the Bukidnon National School of Home Industries in Maramag, Bukidnon.

    “In 2000, she earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Peace and Development at Notre Dame University. She was a grantee of the CHED – Mindanao Advanced Education Project (CHED MAEP). She finished her Master of Arts in Anthropology in Ateneo de Manila University as a grantee of the RP-US Faculty Development Program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Major in Social Studies, Cum Laude, in the then Bukidnon State College.

    “As a book author, Dr. dela Torre wrote about peace education and peace studies, including her 2008 work entitled ‘Peace Education, Human Rights and Related Fields” and in 2001 “A reviewer on human rights, peace, global education and related fields.’

    “She used to work as faculty of the then Bukidnon State College, where many of her students fondly remember her as an inspiring and motivating mentor. She taught social studies subjects back then.”

    In VERA Files, we knew her as “Lalu,” one of the nine fellows from different parts of the country that responded to our invitation to attend a journalism training workshop on Road Safety in August 2019.

    Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the objective of the training workshop was to raise the consciousness of the public on Road Safety as a health concern, not a merely a motorist issue.

    The principle behind the training is that anything untoward that happens on the road is preventable. There is no such thing as “accident.” Public awareness of Road Safety will save lives and resources.

    Unlike many senior journalists who are too eager to impress younger ones with their experience and academic titles, there was no such air about Lalu. She was motherly to the other fellows and joined them shopping after the training sessions.

    During the workshop training, she tried to be self-reliant even as she had to seek assistance from younger and more tech-savvy fellows.

    VERA Files reporter Klaire Ting, who served as coordinator of the training-workshop, said what impressed her about Lalu was “her eagerness to learn.”

    When she went back to Bukidnon, Lalu came out with two articles: one about the implementation of the helmet law in Malaybalay and the other about the changing rural landscape because of motorcycle taxis also known as habal-habal.

    She is the type who keeps friendships. Last Christmas, she attended the VERA Files Christmas party. She brought us trinkets made by indigenous people in Bukidnon she has been helping.

    On the sidelines of the training-workshop, we found out that Lalu has a son who is in detention for drug charges. I asked her to write about it from a mother’s point of view and she came out with a piece, “The mother’s agony in the war on drugs.”

    My fellow editors and I discussed Lalu’s article and we were one in our observation that it was lacking in emotions. You can sense from the article that she was suppressing her pain.

    I wrote her back to give more emotions and color to the article. She never wrote back.

    One of our editors said, “Maybe holding back is a defense mechanism. Maybe she is not ready to pour it out.”

    I’d like to tell Lalu, we understand.

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